I just finished rereading Red Thunder by John Varley, which is a fine read, as are the other two books in his trilogy. This time, Heinlein's Rocket Ship Galileo flashed into my brain.

Please note, I am NOT in any way suggesting that Varley in any way copied Heinlein. Varley's book is richer in many ways than Heinlein's, which is a book for young readers. I read it when I was 13. It was the first science fiction I ever read.

Nevertheless, Varley and Heinlein are linked together on many inside-cover blurbs, e.g.,

Varley has earned the mantle of Heinlein

Can anyone recommend an article which discussses the influence of Heinlein on Varley?

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    I can't point to any article, but Heinlein's influence on Varley is unmistakable. In his novels Steel Beach and The Golden Globe, he even references Heinlein with a subculture called "Heinleiners". And in Rolling Thunder which is dedicated to Heinlein), the main character is named Podkayne after Heinlein's titular character in his novel Podkayne of Mars. Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 8:41
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    The question should be left open because it has a definite answer. In this case, the answer is evidently No. If the answer had been Yes, with a citation, then would there still be a call to close the question? Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 3:16
  • @InvisibleTrihedron Well, there's no way to tell. If someone wanted to spend weeks down the rabbit hole of the fanzine archive, they might come across something...
    – Spencer
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 12:58

1 Answer 1


We have John Varley's own words, in a blog he wrote after accepting the 2009 Robert A. Heinlein award:

I’ve won Hugo and Nebula awards, but none of them mean as much to me as this one does. I remember Mr. Green, the librarian at C.O. Wilson Junior High, handing me a copy of RED PLANET, by Heinlein, and saying I might enjoy it. Enjoy it? I went NUTS! I read ALL Heinlein’s books in the coming weeks, and all the other science fiction I could find. That book set the course of my life...

Source: https://varley.net/nonfiction/news/the-2009-robert-a-heinlein-award/

  • Looks like you spent only one hour down the rabbit hole! Thanks.
    – user48960
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 12:49
  • @ab2 I chased a different rabbit.
    – Spencer
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 13:18

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